"Daddy made you your favorite, open wide..."

There are a couple of outfits that exist - essentially - wholly on Twitter and do nothing but churn out culture war content to be cross-pollinated on Facebook. That pasty jabroni works for one of them, and the smol-faced boy works for the other one. They contribute no ideas, operate completely in bad-faith, and if they can start a dunk contest on Twitter then they will have kept their lights on for another week. For my own sanity, I've found that letting out an "okay, bud" and moving on with my life works best.

Having said that, Twitter (and their Dunk Widget) matters because it drives the content of the larger platforms. Those cultural mercenaries matter because people on FB engage downstream from the content creation. It sucks that it's this way, but that's where we are.

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Charlie, the other horrible thing about this is that people who make their living from culture war learn from Twitter's editorial decisions that pouncing on someone for the culture war works to get them attention. Piers Morgan attacked Naomi Osaka and it worked for him. Everyone else learned from that. So this week we had Megyn Kelly attacking Naomi Osaka, calling her a phony who doesn't want to answer questions and doesn't struggle with mental health... culminating in Osaka blocking her, which Kelly then used to get more attention by pointing out the block. Megyn has a podcast to launch, so ganging up on the highest paid female athlete in the world.made a lot of sense. This all sounds inane as I write it out, but I think Twitter has massive influence - most people aren't on Twitter, and Twitter is not real life... but trolls and dirtbags like Charlie Kirk monitor twitter for ways to frame their hate. (Kirk called Biles a "sociopath.") Same for sports media trolls. Then they carry these tested framing devices onto the radio, TV and podcast shows.

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Twitter is designed with outrage as its foundation. The first replies on every tweet are always some stupid take that gets people to reply, ratio, and engage with that user. Some platforms, such as Reddit, organize comments by Top or Best - Twitter organizes them by Worst so that we are outraged and constantly engaged with it.

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I just wanted to say you nailed my exact feelings about this entire situation. I was immediately completely and totally exhausted by the discourse on Twitter around this event because of the reasons you identified so clearly: as with seemingly every other event that happens, big and small, it becomes a microcosm of a predictable cultural and political divide. It's just one more referendum on each side's values, and a continuous one-upping, dunking, "actually" fest that accomplishes approximately not a god damn thing.

I have really enjoyed Twitter for the opportunity it gives me access the thoughts and reactions of intelligent and knowledgeable people in real time (for me, mainly to events in politics and sports). But it's beginning to feel like the things I enjoyed most about Twitter are being buried under ceaseless daily culture war spats on whatever dumbass thing happened most recently. Maybe I need to do a better job curating my feed; I did chose to follow everyone who posts on there (though it does feel like Twitter is constantly trying to showing me posts I HAVEN'T chosen, through other peoples' likes, topics, etc). But at the end of the day, it's reached a point where I feel like whatever positives I feel like there were aren't really worth it anymore. And it's frustrating that the platform, rather than addressing this issue, seems to actively lean into it.

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Sorry, Ms. Bile cannot be considered as an individual; she is merely a unique intersectional combination of social categorizations. 😉

(Up until this post, I hadn't been paying attention to this news story. I assumed from the headlines that this was about a gifted athlete who had made a difficult personal decision. I "sent" a brief generic thoughts-and-prayers "brava" to her; but otherwise for me there was "nothing to see here," and I moved on.)

But my larger question is this: are there any ethical, philosophical or religious foundations remaining in our culture that could make the cultivation of a basic attitude of **respect** for any and all human beings a primary personal goal for our fellow citizens?

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Feeling your pain. Before quitting Twitter I would post desperate advice threads on why my bubble should stop quote-dunking on their targets. No one listened. They would reply with trite observations like 'all it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing', as if they were doing *something* by 'resisting' (as they saw it).

I also tried to moderate how triggering the trending topics were by selecting countries I knew nothing about for that feed. It helped a bit. But my bubble always saw to it that the latest outrage would slam into my timeline anyway.

Thanks for reminding me why I quit.

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Running this article through GPT3, this is what the AI outputs:

The point here is not that any of this is the fault of any individual journalists or outlets. The problem here is that the internet has become an information and communication channel that is so crowded and so fetid that it is now almost impossible to have an intelligent conversation.

Instead, we’re trapped in a cycle of little culture war skirmishes, each engineered to produce emotional reactions that will be “trending” on Twitter. This is part of a larger trend that has been accelerated by social media, and it’s a problem because it’s exhausting and it makes us dumber. We’re losing the ability to have thoughtful conversations about anything that matters.

I don’t have a solution to all this, but as fun as it is to dunk on Matt Walsh’s dumb tweet, it’s also a small portion of a much larger problem. The internet is eating itself and our ability to communicate with one another in a meaningful way. I don’t know how to stop it, but I do know that I’m tired. I’m tired of this.

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Really liked this article. I'd, however, love to see you explore more on the idea of trending topics (e.g. those picked by algorithm as important) being an indicator of our current rage (you're "saving grace" for the sidebar). As much as such an indicator may be a bit silly (and likely, enraging itself), the concept of being able to measure general outrage at particular things at any point in time I find an interesting concept. Particularly, it may be able to expose rage from both sides of the issue about the issue being an indicator, not of rage, but of concern or even passion (not in the amorous sense) about something. Any such analysis of rage could actually get at a (much) more valuable consideration of "why" people are enraged about "this" "now".

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More applicable to "old" media than "new," but worth considering given that even Twitter has to generate revenue somehow, largely by gaining eyeballs ....

from Andrey Mir at https://human-as-media.com/2021/02/23/how-both-old-and-new-media-polarise-society-for-profit-or-survival/

"The main value of social networks is tied to their biggest harm. The same features that provide an amazing service of self-actualisation – rapid responsiveness, engagement, virality – simultaneously propel the extremisation of expression.

Print, with its steady and thoughtful linear narrative, started the Age of Reason. Social media, with their instant service of accelerated self-actualisation, have turned the Age of Reason into the Age of Rage.


[When] [t]he media started being dependent on readers’, not advertisers’, money ..., they [learned that they] must also support and amplify readers’ irritation and frustration with those issues. The more concerned people become, the more likely they are to donate [i.e., subscribe]. In order to be successful, the media should ideally not just exaggerate but also induce the public’s concerns."

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While a lot of the criticism of Biles fell into the lens you described, it doesnt get to WHY people watch sports at the highest level. It's to see excellence that breaks through all barriers. There is an expectation of athletes performing for their audience. And sometimes, that means powering through. Athletes are where they are BECAUSE they dont quit. Its really easy to give up and I have done plenty. I personally dont think Biles should have powered through, but I'm not a sports nut. Also, depending on how bad her mental health was impacting her, my (or a sports fan's) opinion of her decision could change.

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Or they want to be entertained.

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Wasn't buying the crap paying for her ego anyway. Won't start now.

Sad her team won't get appearance fees because of her and yet she'll get paid for showing up.

They should get something.

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* Yawn *.

1. Leftists act outlandish over an event/phenomenon.

2. Conservatives comment on it.

3. Leftists cite outrage/attack/racism by conservatives as the story.

Rinse. Repeat. You've added nothing.

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And to be clear...you skipped over the sycophant virtue signalling part and went directly to the conservative commentary in an attempt to obfuscate the fact that the conservative commentary was actually about the virtue signalling more than the event itself.

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Charlie Warzel skipped over it because he's advancing an argument about how if the commentary is not toxic itself, then it whips up a dust cloud of toxic comments and virality that exacerbate pointless culture wars.

In the future, when you're making a counter-comment, avoid using cliched rightwing shibboleths like virtue signaling. All you're doing is signaling (heh) that you're incapable of original or engaging ideas, you lose the audience you're intending to make your point to, you end up proving the very argument Charlie made while you believe you're "pwning" ... and logically you are conceding that leftists are virtuous. :)

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Twitter promotes content "not wisely, but too well" - call it the Algorithmic Othello problem.

Speaking of masterfully-written epic dramas, on Netflix, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts has a line so good I wrote it on my wall: "you can't END a war by FIGHTING it." Kipo cracked the code. Building trust takes time, and it means taking a lot of risks, and it means a lot of those risks won't pay off... but it's the work you have to do. Because you can't end a war by fighting it.

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